This is it!
I never thought I would be able to do my master’s degree in Buddhist Studies, here in the resourceful DILA. My father could openly attest to this, I am certain.
November 2001, I graduated from Pin Hwa High School, a small school supported by the local Chinese community in Klang, Malaysia. I waltz into NUS (National University of Singapore) with my beloved sciences, and eagerly leaped into Life Science, the trend of that moment. It was a big thing to my father, in one way he was pleased by my so-called filial performance.
In that competitive international platform, I got my first-ever “D” in the exam, and THAT, was a big thing to me. Reality hit the arrogant me and it is my first-ever impact of, in Buddhist terminology, “suffering”, an experience which finally in-sync with the term I came across during my childhood Sunday Dharma school. Graced with the push factors from the environment and within, gradually I was embarking on a journey of quest from science to the unknown.
Upon graduation, I sought console in field of cancer research, by chance. Although a minute role as research assistant, somewhere along the way I was struck and convinced by the idea that medicine is only good at removing certain symptoms of disease, but it could never be a cure, once and for all. What causes disease, truly? What actually triggers cellular and proteomic mutations? What does a person’s lifestyle, which defined as an accumulation of habitual patterns, has to say in this entanglement of disease? Why are pessimists less viable than optimists? How does our mind affect our body? The list goes on and on. These are not just wild cards, as I am sure they aren’t new questions.
Being realistically aware of my incompetency and, not to mention, my immature research skills, I took a break from these hammering buzzes in my head.
If life is an energy field of bouncy atoms as wise men speculated, it is also said to be shaped by the things we focus our attention to, either knowingly or unconsciously.
My quests eventually led me to Taiwan.
Amongst the cancer friends of New Life Association, a non-profit organization which in 2004 assessed by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) as one of the top sixty organizations that supports the community in a way a government cannot perform, I observed how people try to combine the effort of physical remedies and mental strength in the face of cancer. For three good years, I live among these courageous souls. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but to ask myself again and again: How does the subtle connection of mind and body functions? Are my answers lying somewhere in between the lines of Heart Sutra? -- I was not equipped to answer these questions.
It is irony to see suffering as gift for betterment, but this is, in my understanding, what the Buddha has taught as the First Truth of Four Noble Truth: the Truth of Suffering. What should I do with the buzz in my head? I continued my prayers.
One usual summer afternoon in April 2014, I broke into tears. Over the phone, a friend said: “You’ve got into DDBC (currently “DILA”), it is up in their website!”. I tasted the tears of gratitude and heard myself saying, “This is it, keep going!”
For the past five month since school started, every moment is a “coming-back”. I love the sensible curriculum that is structured on languages, digital tools and various schools of thoughts; I embrace the meditation and prayer sessions, as well as the animated interaction with my fellow classmates (an interesting combination of 11 monastics and 5 lay-persons)!
I recognize the journey of quest continues, and I hope one day I will be able to answer those hammering questions, baby step at a time~